One thing that’s really important if you want to relax is to let go of what’s going on in other parts of your life. Personally I do that through Meditation. As an actor I meditate before every performance, and even before I audition. Even if I only have a minute or two, I have techniques that I use to help me to calm my body and my mind, so that I’m in the right space to be able to warm up my instrument and perform properly.
I recommend doing some sort of relaxation exercise every day if you can. I usually meditate for 20 minutes during the day and again at night before I go to sleep.
Even if you’re familiar with meditation it’s tough to quiet the mind. We have so much going on in our head; “What do I need to do tomorrow?”, “What did I do today?”, “What could I have done better?”. With all of these things going on in our head we really need to find ways to shut down for a moment. As an actor, artist or creative type, this is vital to performing at our authentic best.
The first step to meditation is just to notice your breath. It’s really the simplest thing of all. We all have this rhythmic system going on in our body – well, you know, hopefully you’re breathing. You don’t really have to do anything except notice your breath to begin to enter into a meditative state. The best way that I know to do that is to close your eyes and just listen for the breath going in and out. Hopefully you’re in a quiet space where you can hear that. Something happens when you notice the breath going in, the breath going out, the rise and fall of your chest as your lungs expand and contract. You don’t have to count the times it happens. You don’t have to try to force them to be faster or slower. Just notice what the breath is doing. I suggest doing that for at least 5 minutes whenever you have a chance. Of course there are other types of meditation that are a little more complex. This one is easy because all of us breathe.
If you spend time focusing on your breath you may also eventually notice your pulse. You might even be able to hear your heartbeat. This puts you in touch with the present. It puts you in touch with what’s going on physiologically for you. Like I said, you don’t need to alter it. You don’t need to try to regulate it in any way. Just notice the breath and use that to concentrate on until everything else fades, because breath is the one constant thing that’s always with you.
This is also a great way to relieve anxiety. You can even lessen physical pain through meditation. It can help propel you through moments of insecurity, because you’re not concentrating on the insecurity in that moment – you’re focused on what’s going on in your body. It’s as simple as that. Where you put your attention can change everything. And you are much more powerful than you may think.
I talk about this a lot in my voiceover classes, I think it a vital component of a successful career as an artist, regardless of what your craft is. I took my students through a guided meditation recently and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that I decided to record a professional version of it! It’s on my website at: https://www.blumvoxstudios.com/steve-blum-guided-meditation/ if you’d like to check it out.
Remember that everything you truly need you already have on board, all you gotta do is access it, and meditation is one of the oldest proven ways on the planet to do that.
To your even more relaxed state of mind, body, and soul!